No two divorces are created equal. Your divorce could be highly contentious and filled with drama about money and children. Your neighbor’s may be calmer with less to argue about and fewer hurt feelings. Still others are somewhere in between. My point in mentioning this is that while you cannot know specifically where your case is going as far as preparation, you can do your best to put yourself in a position where you will end up achieving the results and goals that you set out for yourself at the beginning of your case.
Getting to the point where your divorce is done and over with is something that may seem far away to you at the moment. It’s probably taken you some time and guts to admit to yourself that you need to move forward and file for divorce from your spouse. Now that you’ve arrived at that conclusion the next decision you need to make is who will you choose to help you actually start and finish that process along side of you.
Before you go it alone, consider the following
When people want to climb Mt. Everest they do not strap on some boots and take off for the summit without assistance. Without getting into the training, altitude acclimation and other details the most important part of successfully climbing a mountain is having a guide. These folks are known as “Sherpas”. They are experienced and knowledgeable at doing what you want to do- climbing a mountain. The Sherpa won’t carry you all the way to the peak but they’ll do everything short of that to help you achieve your goal.
I could go on and on with analogies like this. You don’t work on your own car, most likely. You don’t pull your own teeth (at least I hope not). No, you hire people to do things for you that you are not able to do simply on your own. My point is: why would you want to treat your divorce any different from all of these examples that I’ve just provided you?
The nuts and bolts of a divorce are, in many ways, akin to a business transaction. You will be dividing up assets and negotiating over your children. The rights and duties of each parent, the time that both you and your spouse get to spend with your children and many other issues as well. If you are a businessperson you probably spend much of your day negotiating and hammering out business deals. Is divorce any different?
Divorce is personal- remember this as you begin the process of hiring a family law attorney
There is no more personal a legal matter than a divorce. It’s more personal than a contract dispute, bankruptcy, personal injury case, or oil and gas dispute. You will tell your attorney about problems, secrets and other things that you would probably only share with your priest, pastor or best friend otherwise. It is silly to think that you can disassociate yourself with years, maybe even decades worth of history with your spouse.
For that reason I tell potential clients who are on the fence about hiring an attorney that if nothing else, an attorney can help you see the forest for the trees. While you may be focused on particular issues within your case an attorney can help you see the big picture. The experience of a family law attorney means that you will be represented by a person who has been through many divorces and has advised people just like you when you face a particular hurdle in your case.
To sum it up- don’t rely on yourself to have to problem solve through ever issue in your divorce by yourself. Odds are decent that if you decide to represent yourself that your spouse will have their own attorney to represent their interests. This puts you in an unenviable situation because you are left without representation and will have to negotiate and potentially try a divorce case against someone who knows the tips and tricks of divorce cases in Texas. If you want to exercise those do-it-yourself muscles, buy an old truck and fix that up over the course of a few years. Hire a family law attorney to represent you in your divorce.
Understand what a family law attorney does before hiring one
If you have never hired an attorney or even spoken to one this process will be brand new to you. Unfortunately for you, lawyers and the legal profession in general have built themselves something of a bad reputation as far as their truthfulness and trustworthiness. Lawyer jokes are a dime a dozen and every new television show has a slimy lawyer character who either acts as comic relief or as an antagonist for the main character to defeat in some form or fashion.
Before you go out into the world in search of legal help, you should know that your attorney is not there to make decisions for you in your case. This is your divorce. This is your life. These are going to be your decisions in the case. The attorney’s job is to educate you, inform you, provide you with context and advice. Thereafter you are in a better position to make a decision as far as what do with your case. As I tell clients all the time, I am happy to take your phone calls in the middle of the night, but remember that this is your case and not mine.
Divorce may not be the be all, end all for your family
It would be great if I could promise each of our clients that their divorce would be the only time that he or she would ever have to file or respond to a lawsuit. Unfortunately this isn’t possible. I would be much happier if the divorce meant that all fighting and animosity between you and your spouse would end as soon as the judge pronounced you all divorced. This, too, is not in the cards.
Divorce can divide property, commit you and your spouse to a visitation schedule with your children and create a roadmap for each subject but it cannot solve every problem that you face in your personal life. The job of your attorney is to help you understand what your divorce can, and what it cannot, do for you. He or she should meet with you for a face to face conversation where you can set goals, establish realistic expectations for what can be expected in your case and to above all else reassure you that the case will, at some point, come to an end.
Tips, tricks and hints on how to select the right attorney for your divorce
Now that we have laid the groundwork for how to select a great family law attorney, we will actually begin our discussion in tomorrow’s blog on that subject. Hiring a family law attorney is in some ways like picking out a plumber or a mechanic to work on your home or vehicle. Word of mouth, reputation and a good feeling from the person can go a long way to inspire confidence.
On the other hand, a divorce is a unique circumstance that requires pretty specific methods to evaluate and hire an attorney. We will get into that topic in much greater detail tomorrow. Just as no two divorces are created equal, no two family law attorney are created equal as well. We will do our best to help you distinguish the important factors when interviewing and hiring an attorney.
Questions on hiring a family law attorney? Contact one today at the Law Office of Bryan FaganThe attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC offer free of charge consultations with one of our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. We represent people in our community just like you and work on behalf of those clients to help further their interests and achieve their goals. It would be an honor to speak to you about your circumstances to assist you in doing the same. We look forward to spending more time with you tomorrow as we continue our discussion on this important topi